Tungsten is known for its extremely high melting point which at temperatures of 3,400 degrees Celsius, is the highest of any metal. The metal boils at temperatures exceeding 5,930 degrees Celsius, the second highest boiling point of any metal on earth. Tungsten is produced from wolframite and scheelite ores. Scheelite is particularly notable as it is from this ore that the metal gets its name. “Tungsten” is the Swedish name for “scheelite” and can be translated to mean “heavy stone.” Tungsten was first discovered as a distinct element in the late 18th century.
List of Countries By Tungsten Production
Uses of Tungsten
Being one of the hardest metals on earth, tungsten is necessary for the production of ballistic missiles and drills. Tungsten alloys are also used in the manufacturing of filaments of light bulbs and x-ray tubes, and in radiation shielding. Due to the metal’s extremely high boiling point, it is favorable for high-temperature applications including arc-wielding of electrodes as well as in heating of elements to extremely high temperatures.
Top Tungsten Producing Countries
China is the largest producer of tungsten in the world, with the country’s annual tungsten production of 64,000 being equivalent to over 83% of the global production. China also has the world’s largest reserves of ores used in the production of tungsten. Overproduction in China has led to the dramatic fall in global tungsten prices. Overproduction in China is compounded by the fact that tungsten is also produced as a by-product in the production of other metals including molybdenum. As a remedy to domestic overproduction, the Chinese government has instituted a production ceiling of tungsten which is currently at 91,300 tons per year. Russia is the second-largest tungsten producer in the world and the largest in Europe. Russia’s tungsten production was estimated to be about 3,537 tons in 2012. The overproduction in China in the past has caused global tungsten prices to plummet leading to the closure of many tungsten mines in Russia. However, the mines have roared back to production after global tungsten prices soared in recent years. The United States is another top tungsten producing country but the exact figures on the tungsten produced in the United States is not known as most tungsten producing companies withhold the information. Nonetheless, the United States is a top tungsten consuming country and annually uses about 20,000 tons of tungsten in industrial application. The United States also has some of the richest tungsten reserves in the world which are estimated to have as much as 140,000 tons of the metal. Other key tungsten producers in the world are Bolivia which has an annual production of 1,247 tons and Canada whose annual tungsten production is about 2,194 tons.
Global Tungsten Prices
Tungsten production in the world is quite low compared to other metals, with the global production being only 76,400 tons in 2012. As the leading tungsten producing country in the world and accounting for over 80% of the global tungsten production, China wields utmost influence in global tungsten prices. Overproduction of the metal in China has led to a fall in global tungsten prices and vice versa. In the past, the Chinese government had not placed restrictions on domestic tungsten production, which led to a surplus of the metal in global markets and ultimately leading to the falling of global prices.
Effects of Low Prices
Low tungsten prices forced many tungsten mining companies to shut down and abandon important mines. However, as a result of the supply curb instituted by China has made tungsten prices to soar and made other countries such as Russia and Canada to reopen their tungsten mines.